By Greg Brill - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Almost on instinct, Central picked up its full-court pressure in the opening minutes of the second half.
When Falcons coach Roger Wilkins glanced out and saw his defense picking up the ball, he yelled for his team to back off. By then, the boys basketball game was well in hand.
The Falcons scored the first 11 points, had a 38-point lead by the break, and demolished Stonewall Jackson 70-23 Wednesday night in the Shenandoah District opener for both teams.
Central forward Michael Marston, who scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the first half, opened the scoring on a stickback just 58 seconds into the game off a turnover possession.
Central (5-1, 1-0) had a 21-2 lead after one quarter, getting 13 points off turnovers.
Not bad for the Falcons, who had not played since losing Dec. 15 at Skyline.
"We had to come out and play our style of basketball," Wilkins said. "These kids, they love the defense that we run and we [inserted the 1-3-1 defense], actually, two years ago at camp. We said, 'Hey, this is how we're going to play and we'll speed up the game.' We feel like [playing] Skyline and Handley [in the past], if we sit back in a half-court, we sit in a 2-3 zone, we're getting blitzed.
"We have some pretty good shooters, good quickness. I have three point guards, and we share the ball well."
Now in his third season, Wilkins has a deep bench and has decided to use many players early in the season. Nine Falcons played in the first quarter and five scored. Central unloaded for 27 more points in the second period to take a 48-10 lead at the half.
Stonewall Jackson (0-7, 0-1) had 21 turnovers by the half and Central scored 27 first-half points off the giveaways.
Whether it was Marston (seven rebounds) or reserve Colton Manich (game-high nine boards) crashing for second- and third-chance opportunities, whether it was guards Matt Sherfey (eight points), Seth Bauserman (12 points), or Kyle Willis (nine points) either pulling up for made jumpers or slashing to the basket for easy scores, Central took care of this game long before the second half began.
Top scorer and four-year starter Aaron Heishman (three points) wasn't needed much, and the Falcons did not commit a turnover until Willis was called for a player-control foul with 6:55 left in the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Marston, Central's only true post starter, dominated, getting 10 of his points.
"We're pleased with his performance and improvement," Wilkins said. "You know, he played in the shadows of [former Falcons] J.J. [Armentrout] and Stuart French in the past, and he's just got to work his way into it. He's a little tougher in the post now."
The Generals reached double-digit scoring in a quarter just once, the fourth. Michael Strazella and Andrew Kipps each had five points to lead Stonewall Jackson, which made just nine field goals.